Appaloosa Horse

The Appaloosa was brought to North America by Spanish settlers. Several Native American tribes bred this horse but they were a particular favourite with the Nez Perce. They were valued for their endurance, stamina, and good temperament. There are five recognized Appaloosa coat patterns: blanket, marble, leopard, snowflake, and frost. The breed nearly disappeared after the Nez Perce War of 1877. During the 20th century the Appalaloosa Horse Club played an important role in protecting the species.

Primary Sources

(1) Joaquin Miller and his family joined a wagon train to Oregon in the 1860s. He wrote about it in his autobiography, Overland in a Covered Wagon (1930)

About this time a very serious thing happened. A Mr. Wagoner had a beautiful girl in his large family, and a friendly Indian chief who rode a fine spotted horse asked Mr. Wagoner what he would take for her. The Indian was told in jest that he would take ten beautiful spotted horses, like the one he rode.

The Indian dashed off and the same day overtook us with the ten horses and a horde of warriors, and wanted the girl. Of course everybody protested, but the chief would not be put off. The Oregonians that had been sent out to meet us were appealed to.

It was a very serious matter, they said. The chief was an honest man and meant exactly what he said, and had a right to the girl. The majority agreed, and thought the best way out of it was to let papa marry them. This seems strange now, but it was the Indian custom to buy wives, and as we were in the heart of a very warlike people, we could not safely trifle with the chief.

The girl was about to throw herself in the river from the steep bluff where we were, at which the chief, seeing her terror, relented and led his warriors off, scornfully refusing what presents were offered him for his forbearance.